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May 13, 2024

Harm Reduction Laws in the United States

State laws governing prescription medications make it difficult for community groups, harm reduction organizations, and similar entities to distribute naloxone, and a variety of laws designed to punish people who use drugs discourage those who are experiencing or witnessing an overdose to call for help. Most states have passed laws designed to mitigate some of the impact of criminalization. There is great variation in the presence and specifics of these laws, which can create confusion among both people who use drugs and people and organizations working to ensure that they have the supplies they need to protect themselves and others. This document is designed to reduce this information gap and help individuals and organizations better understand how the legal landscape in their state may impact access to harm reduction services and supplies and emergency medical assistance in an overdose. It includes detailed information regarding laws related to the possession and distribution of injection and smoking equipment, drug checking equipment, naloxone access, statewide naloxone standing orders, and overdose Good Samaritan overdose protections in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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